18 November 2003

Speaker is stifling Parliamentary debate

In 'the good old days', question time was not to be missed. While still at primary school I used to tune into the ABC's rebroadcast of question time and marvel at the wit and humour of Menzies, Calwell, Killen, Whitlam and Daly.

When I watch question time today I feel like reaching into the screen and throttling Mr Speaker! And that is probably quite unfair as he is undoubtedly doing what he believes to be right.

The electoral redistribution commissioners have ensured that Speaker Andrew will not be Speaker in the next Parliament.

It is not a matter of trying to get an 'independent' Speaker but simply getting one who applies common sense, as well as long-established rich parliamentary practice and tradition, and not just rigid standing orders!

We don't need to descend to fist-fighting on the floor, as is common in the Parliaments of Taiwan and South Korea! We don't need the boringly scripted US House of Representatives. What we need is a Parliament that is alive and well, robust and challenging, for government and opposition alike.

The sooner the House of Representatives draws on its wonderful traditions, and consigns to history a current practice that can only further erode the poor standing of our national legislature, the better.

I'd say 'Hear! Hear!' to this but I dare not for fear of interjectors in the comment box.

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